What Would Google Do Summary

Why read this

  • To know more about Google’s mentality concerning internet entrepreneurship and why you should be applying it to your business.

Why listen to the author

  • He’s an American journalist, professor, public speaker and former television critic.

What Would Google Do Reviews


What Would Google Do – Book Summary

by André D. Ferreira.

Reading time: ~8 min.

Reduce Barriers to Entry

Explosive web companies — Skype, eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Quora, and Google itself — don’t charge users much. If you extract the minimum value from the network it is more likely that it will grow to its maximum size and value.

Skype was firstly a free service, which was when it exploded in popularity, and then it added paid features that made it much better than phone companies. eBay created a new retail marketplace by only requesting a little commission from each sale. Once eBay saw itself alone at the top, it slowly raised those fees. The same thing we can see happened with Paypal and ICQ. Marissa Mayer’s, former Google’s vice-president, used to say “Bank users, not money,” as advice on building new products and networks. When it’s big, then we think about money.

Create a platform which the users can, in a easy way, help build, like Wikipedia. Make it easy for them to help you.

“If there’s any possible reason why anyone on the web would want to link to you, make it easy for them to do so.”

If there are sites and bloggers writing about a topic that concerns your site, make them aware of it.

“Advertising is your last priority, your last resort, an unfortunate by-product of not having enough friends.” Nowadays, the power of clients talking nice things (by means of reviews, comments, …) and the people that read those, is worth more than advertisements about the provice (product/service). This also brings the fact that even if your product is not perfect, if you have an awesome customer service, at least the customers can trust and admire your company. In its “10 things Google has found to be true,” the company says its “growth has come not through TV ad campaigns but through word of mouth from one satisfied user to another.”

Organize a Community that Already Exists

The worst client is your best friend. Thank him, because when he complains about something he’s helping you correcting some problem. Use blogs to find clients that are complaining and solve their problems with your product/service (provice). Have a blog of your company, and talk about what you’re doing.

Communities already exist, what several social networks do is organize them. Flickr organizes people that like to share photos, Zuckerberg made a website for his class to share class notes for the arts-exam they were going to have, Meetup for people with similar interests. Zuckerberg: “communities are already doing what they want to do. If you’re lucky, they’ll let you help them.”

People will contribute their time and energy if they feel that they can build something worth having, have influence on other people, help others, and claim ownership.

Take Risks, Make Mistakes, Learn, Iterate Quickly

Google uses “Beta” as a way of saying “There are sure to be mistakes here and so please help us find and fix them and improve the product. Tell us what you want it to be. Thanks.”

Mayer advised Stanford students about “Innovation, not instant perfection. (…) The key is iteration. When you launch something, can you learn enough about the mistakes that you make and learn enough from your users that you ultimately iterate really quickly?” This is basically the reasoning behind lean thinking. “We make mistakes every time, every day,” Mayer confessed. “But if you launch things and iterate really quickly, people forget about those mistakes and have a lot of respect for how quickly you build the product up and make it better.”

In a very similar way, Eric Schmidt also said

“I want to run a company where we are moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little. If we don’t have any of these mistakes, we’re just not taking enough risk.”

He even encourages employees: “Please fail very quickly—so that you can try again.” Zuckerberg too, thinks similarly. He makes mistakes, but, by listening to customers, he makes them well and responds quickly. It’s not the mistake that matters but what you do about it.

Google constantly releases unfinished versions of its products and gets help from users developing them simultaneously. It is unusually transparent, a will to work in the open and to involve its users in the development process. Let your customers into your design process. You may protest: It’s a secret. But should it be? If you hide the design process, you also hide yourself from great ideas of the people who need, buy, and care about your provice. How much more valuable could your provices be if you gave your customers exactly what they wanted? Try taking one project be radically transparent about it. Blog about your thought process and join in human conversations with customers. Ask people what you should do. Admit mistakes. Open up. [Unreal Tournament (4) and Counter Strike (GO) went back to their successful beginnings by doing exactly that.]

Still, remember that it’s still up to you to devise good ideas, to invent, inspire, surprise and execute well. Companies are not democracies but neither should they be dictatorships. Ideally, meritocracies. What you have to do is to get good ideas to surface in order to improve your provice.

Google doesn’t worry about competition because they believe that innovation and creativity bring benefits to the users and forces everyone else to improve. “I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. The best people want to work the big challenges. You are probably on the right track if you feel like a sidewalk worm during a rainstorm!” Larry Page Google co-founder.

There are 2 main ways of launching provices:

  1. Closing the curtains and build, build, build what we think the market wants. Then launch. That was the main approach of Apple. These provices generally bring a wow factor when they are presented. The problem is whether we’re right in assuming that that’s what people really want.
  2. Have a broad idea of what we/people want, and build part of what is needed. Then let the users give feedback always keeping the main goal in mind. This is the iterative process where “Being willing to fail is an essential part of innovation.”

When producing online content: decide what business you’re in and then define a plan. Firstly, you must produce unique content with clear value; Secondly, you must make it easy for search engines to find your content, because if you’re not searchable, you won’t be found. Thirdly, when you get an audience and links, it is up to you to exploit them.

Use real data and statistics to show as scientifically as possible what users prefer, what sells more, etc. Search about psychology if needed. Don’t make decisions based on what you think. Make decisions based on what the data says.

Focus on the User and the Rest Will Come

Innovate! Take a core group of people and rethink everything. Ask questions about even what is assumed to be true without question. “Why is that?”, “So what?”, “What if?”.

Google’s rule no.1 — focus on the user and the rest will come.

Cars almost don’t evolve year after year because designers of manufacturing processes making everything in secret. Design and surprise are their favorite sauce. A lot of people would love to be able to connect some electrical stuff to the car, but since designers are disconnected from drivers, they keep evolving in their way.

Allow customers to make suggestions and discuss them. Take the best ideas and adapt them, not forgetting to give credit. Though most customers can’t elaborate on certain technical designs (e.g. transmission) they can contribute on more general aspects (e.g. the look of the car, features, and options). Even more, they could take part in economic decisions, for example, if it’s worth it to sacrifice electrical windows to get a cheaper car or a nicer radio? Not only could this bring more informed decisions, and bring about things that customer want, but this would also invest customers in the product, build excitement and get the product talked on social media.

“An age of transparency must be an age of forgiveness.” The author defends that our new publicness [loss of privacy?] should make more empathetic and forgiving of each others’ faults and mistakes. “Who are we to throw stones when Google moves us all into glass towns? In Googley terms: Life is a beta.”

The author mentions the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow, “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new  home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.” The old world’s laws of property, identity, and movement “are all based on matter, and there is no matter  here. (…) We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

“The rules explored in this book — part of Google mentality — are the rules of a society built on connections, links, transparency, openness, publicness, [yes but having the option of privacy is a good thing or is it not?] listening, trust, wisdom, generosity, efficiency, markets, niches, platforms, networks, speed, and abundance.”

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